For Grape Cat founders Christine and James Lucas, running an online store isn't just about moving merch. The 1-year-old shop makes a statement about compassion, carrying only cruelty-free items and donating a portion of its proceeds to like-minded charities.
"We really think it’s important to support organizations that are on the front lines helping animals every day," Christine said. "We are vegan for the animals, and putting money back into their welfare is important to us. We are inspired every day by the folks who care for these creatures, and we’ve been touched personally by them, so we think it’s the right thing to do."
"As vegan consumers, we started with a few brands that we love…" Christine said, noting that Ferocious Vegan tanks and Matt & Nat bags are among the store's current best-sellers. "It's important to us that we would personally use all of our products."
Grape Cat's latest products are its own. "We just created a few of our own sweatshirts and thermals, and we're really excited about them," said James, whose background is in graphic design. "[They] are 100% organic cotton and made in the USA. I designed three different messages and I hope to incorporate those into T-shirts and tanks next year."
A brick-and-mortar store could also be on the horizon for Bucks County, Pa.-based James and Christine, who are also the founders of Bucks County Vegan Supper Club and co-founders of the website From A to Vegan. But for now, they are reaching new customers by attending events such as the Vegan Shop-Up and Vegan SoulFest. " It’s difficult to reach a large market online with a limited budget, but we can pack up our car and travel to different events to sell our merchandise," James said. "One of our goals is to spread a message of compassion, and that’s obviously not just limited to people who are already vegan. We enjoy meeting people, whether they are established vegans or don’t even know much about vegan products. There are a lot of people we meet who have heard of some of the products we carry but have never been able to see and touch them, so it’s nice to show them the products we stand behind. It’s also great to meet other vendors and find new products like Pure Apparel and Compassion Co."
If you're in New York, you can catch GrapeCat at Brooklyn Vegan Shop-Up on December 6 or December 20.